Elderly care can be a sensitive topic. After all, the decision to start home care is a significant one that warrants careful consideration and thoughtful discussion with your loved one.
As we start to age, some of us may notice that we need a little extra help around the house and that our sight and hearing aren’t what they used to be. For others, on the other hand, age is only a number, and the suggestion that extra support is needed is less welcome.
If you observe that your loved one is showing signs of aging, though they may feel as young and capable as ever, talking about care can feel challenging. For your loved one, the thought of receiving home care can feel like a loss of independence. Ironically, however, with home care, elderly loved ones can remain independent within the comfortable surroundings of their own home for longer. Home care prioritises comfort, safety and health, which helps seniors stay at home, living life as independently as possible for as long as possible.
Here at Guardian Angel Carers, we know that home care allows elderly loved ones to remain in the comfort of their own homes for as long as possible. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you approach a chat about home care.
1. Start Early
Anticipate when your loved one might need some extra help, and mention the possibility of home care before care is necessary. As soon as you first start to notice that a loved one could benefit from extra support at home, introduce the topic of home care with a brief, gentle conversation. If you prepare your loved ones for the idea of elderly home care before care becomes an urgent requirement, the eventual transition to care will be less stressful.
Look for opportunities to approach the topic with your loved one. You can ask questions like: “Where do you see yourself living when you get older?” or “How would you feel about asking someone to help clean, go to the shops and that sort of thing?” By asking loved ones the question at an early stage, you are helping them to feel more comfortable about an idea that might not sit well at first. You can let your loved one know that home care doesn’t have to mean around-the-clock care. Care can start with a little household help with cleaning, laundry and cooking, and as needs change and relationships deepen, home care can change too.
2. Be Patient
Being patient with your elderly loved one is critically important, especially if you notice any resistance to the idea of home care. For some seniors, the thought of home care implies weakness or some sort of personal shortcoming, and they will need time to adapt to the idea of a new person in amongst their personal belongings. As well, privacy concerns may lead your loved one to feel home care is unsuitable, as inviting someone into one’s own personal space can feel daunting.
Ask open questions that do not require a “yes” or “no” answer in order to give your loved one time to think and answer. Conversations may be repetitive, and sometimes, one-sided! You may sometimes feel like you are not getting anywhere, but if you gently persist and be patient, you will eventually reach an arrangement that suits your loved one and gives you both a sense of control.
3. Show Empathy When You Ask Why
If you notice resistance, try to work out why your elderly relative is refusing home care and put yourself in their shoes. Do they feel a loss of pride at the thought of losing their independence? Does the lack of privacy worry them, or fears about the cost or having a stranger in the house? No matter their response, listen and try to understand their point of view rather than dismiss their feelings. Receiving care can feel disempowering, and empathic conversation can restore a sense of control.
The answers your loved one gives you are valuable for several reasons. This kind of two-way conversation allows your loved one to understand that you have their best interests at heart. As well, you will see what type of care is going to best suit your loved one while you put their feelings about home care first. Empathy is so important; the care is for them, so you want them to feel valued, understood, confident and happy with the choice you make together.
4. Offer Care Options
The care pathway is completely customisable, and seniors can receive as little care as a couple of hours of weekly help with home chores to daily companionship, visiting care, or overnight care to live in care. Think creatively about care options; for example, if you feel more intensive care is best, but your loved one appears anxious about such a dramatic change in lifestyle, start slow, if at all possible, and build up from there. If you can, involve loved ones when deciding what kind of help will benefit them the most and discuss each option patiently.
Elderly loved ones and their preferences must be central to the decision-making process. Give loved ones the opportunity to sit in on conversations and to hear and to participate in talks about the best kind of care for them. Encourage loved ones to see their potential carers as companions so they feel less disempowered by the process.
5. Involve a Health Care Professional
Sometimes, it’s easier to talk to a professional about our needs rather than a family member. No matter how positive and loving our relationships with our loved ones may be, they all carry a certain amount of baggage that can impact a sensitive conversation. A doctor, nurse or community leader, on the other hand, has objectivity and perspective, and these qualities can often help challenging conversations go more smoothly.
Don’t hesitate to ask a doctor, nurse, or community leader for advice regarding how best to approach your loved ones. You can even suggest they approach the subject of care needs with your loved ones themselves. Just be aware that these conversations are not a guarantee, and some seniors may actually resent the thought of involving outsiders in such a personal decision.
6. Create a List of Priorities
Make a list of your concerns so you are clear on why you think home care is needed at this time. If appropriate, consult others who are close to your loved one and discuss the concerns with your loved one in a gentle conversation. Ask them if they are ever worried about the same concerns; this way, your loved one may be better able to understand your feelings about their safety and well-being and you will better understand their perspective on the matter.
As you create your list, number each point according to its urgency. Note steps that you feel should be taken to resolve the problems. This process will help you feel less overwhelmed and enable you to organise your thoughts as you begin conversations with a carer for your loved one.
8.Take It Slow
Once you and your loved one have made the decision to start home care, gradually introduce the carer into your loved one’s routine. This gradual process allows your loved one to become comfortable with the presence of a new person, and ideally, they will naturally develop a rapport with each other. You could arrange a quick visit with the carer so you and your loved one can get to know each other over a cup of tea, or even suggest that the carer accompany you both on a shopping trip or other outing.
Acknowledge to yourself and to your loved one that change can be hard and that new relationships can take time. For some, trust builds slowly, so be patient with your loved one and try to remember that their comfort and well-being is everyone’s top priority.
We believe that home care has the potential to inspire confidence in the hearts of our clients and their families.
Here at Guardian Angel Carers, we deliver professional and compassionate care to our clients, and we excel at developing customised care plans that meet your and your loved ones’ needs. If you are worried about your loved one’s safety and well-being and your loved one is resistant to care, please contact our friendly team, and we will support you as best as we can on your journey.